Thursday, August 27, 2009

The whey of the world, part 2 - Just do it

In an earlier post I mentioned Barbara Kingsolver's book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - A Year of Food Life "in which she describes the year her family devoted to growing as much of their own food as possible, eating only what was in season in their own gardens or could be purchased from local farmers markets. One section of the book details a cheese making course Kingsolver took from Ricki Carroll, author of Home Cheese Making and owner of The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company.
The 30-minute mozzarella recipe she learned became a staple in their diet and reading about it started me thinking again about making my own cheese.
I spent all last week researching cheese making and cheese recipes and trying to find a local source for the two ingredients needed to make the most simple cheeses: food grade citric acid and rennet.
Rennet is a complex enzyme coagulant found in the stomach of ruminants and certain plants and is necessary to separate curd (the cheese) from whey (the protein-filled liquid left over after making cheese).
Citric acid is used to increase the acidity in the milk and to help prevent curds from falling apart.
I could probably have found the citric acid at a health food store or pharmacy but the rennet was proving elusive. It can sometimes be found in shops selling wine-making supplies or brewing supplies but, in the end, the easiest way to get what I needed was from an online source.
I placed my order for two bottles of liquid rennet and a pound of citric acid from Leeners, a supply company selling everything from wine making supplies to books on how to cure meat, and spent the next six days waiting UPS to deliver.
The box arrived Tuesday, right on schedule. Now, the only thing left was to just do it.

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